I love Google Forms. I’m not sure that I quite qualify as an addict, but I’m well on my way. I use them for so many things at school, from polling students about technology and collating data about behaviour management, to getting staff to sign up for various things like our Blogs of the Week. I have written about them before (though Google have updated things significantly since then).
For some reason I’ve never thought to use them as a homework tool before. I came up with this plan over the Summer, no doubt because I saw something tweeted and it sparked the idea. I’m using it, for the moment at least, only with my Year 9 GCSE English class. With all the work we did last year with Year 11 on marginal gains, I’ve been pushing the message already that they need to do difficult things little and often if they want to see improvement over time. As a result, I’m sending them two questions per week on a Monday morning, and they have a week to complete each set. A week is a long time for such a task, but I am reasonably confident that at least one or two of my students don’t have access at home to a device and/or the internet, so this gives them an opportunity to complete it at school without too much hassle.
Each week will be comprised of two questions: one multiple choice question, which could have one right answer, multiple right answers or even no right answers; and one paragraph length question where students have to justify their answer from the multiple choice. I went easy on them this week, to get them used to how to do it:
We’re reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” and spent some time talking about the historical and social context – America in the 1930s. We had a very good discussion about racism, segregation and the Jim Crow laws, so I based their first task on this despite having moved on a little bit since then.
The beauty of using Google Forms for this is that, as a school using Google Apps for Education, I can send the form straight into the email inbox of each student as an embedded form, using the class email group. It’s incredibly easy, there’s no ‘I lost my homework’, and they don’t need any other software. Even better than that? Each answer is collated with their username (that’s a choice – it doesn’t have to), a date and time stamp, and their responses populate straight into a handy spreadsheet on Google Drive. I can also choose whether or not students can resubmit their responses.
I’ve blanked out their usernames, but you can clearly see who submitted each response and when. I can click through each paragraph response and read it individually. I instructed them as part of the question to ensure that they used correct SPaG, and I will use Toby French’s approach to whole class marking and create some SPaG-focused starter activities based on their needs.
When I do eventually have a one correct answer multiple choice question (or several questions if I decide to expand things), I can also get a handy summary of responses at the click of a button:
Each individual paragraph also appears when I bring up this summary, but that pie chart is a really quick visual way to see whether or not students have understood the topic.
These responses will also inform a little of the revision that students will be doing each week in lesson time – but more on that later.
Using Google Forms for homework is quick and easy to set, quick and easy to mark, and not too onerous for students. With the automatic recording of responses and automatic spreadsheets and summaries, it’s also a handy evidence trail of what homework has been set (and for parents to see at any time). I just wish I’d thought of doing it sooner!